US President Joe Biden has called on Congress to pass gun control bills in the wake of yet another mass shooting that left nine people dead, including the gunman, at a Texas mall on Saturday.
The Democratic president renewed calls on Sunday for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to enact universal background checks and end immunity for gun manufacturers. There is little chance the narrowly divided House and Senate would pass such legislation, although polls show most people in the United States support background checks.
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“Once again I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Enacting universal background checks. Requiring safe storage. Ending immunity for gun manufacturers,” Biden said in a statement.
“I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe,” he added.
Biden, who has made similar pleas before, said the assailant at Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, wore tactical gear and was armed with an AR-15-style assault weapon.
“Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables,” he went on. “Republican members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.”
The gunman killed eight people, including children, and wounded at least seven, before a police officer killed him, police said on Saturday.
Mass shootings have become commonplace in the US, with at least 199 so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The non-profit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.
Texas Department of Public Safety on Sunday confirmed the identity of the gunman in Saturday’s shooting as Mauricio Garcia, a 33-year-old Dallas resident, but by the evening had not released any details about a possible motive for the attack.
Police have not released the identities of the victims, but a family member said one of those killed was Christian LaCour, a security guard.
“We watched this sweet young boy turn into a very sweet gentleman,” Kellie Smith wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, identifying LaCour as the brother of her daughter-in-law. “Words can not even begin to describe the devastation that our family feels.”
Officials said three people taken to hospitals in the area were in critical condition as of Sunday, while at least three were stable, including one in a children’s hospital.
The tragedy in Allen, which happened just over a week after another deadly shooting in the Texas town of Cleveland, reignited the heated debate over gun control in the US.
The US Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, and that issue is a hot-button one for many Republicans, who are backed by millions in donations from gun rights groups and manufacturers.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, called the shooting “devastating” in a Sunday morning interview on Fox News but said that the way to effectively tackle gun violence lies in addressing mental health.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” he said. “We are working to address that anger and violence by going to his root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats stressed the need to pass stronger gun safety legislation to curtail gun violence.